Northeast U.S. processors reduce staff costs

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In Upstate New York, Sunnking has also seen its inbound volume decrease, and it has had to furlough employees. The Brockport, N.Y.-based processor gets about half of its business from the residential sector and half from commercial clients. When the coronavirus impact began to hit the Empire State, both sides of the business felt the hit, explained Adam Shine, vice president of the company.

Residential collection events started getting canceled throughout New York, alongside all public gatherings. For Sunnking, events account for some 3 million pounds per year. Drop-off collection sites have been “very quiet,” Shine said. Residents are told to stay at home, and electronics recycling is likely not a priority for many in the state as they focus on essential needs.

On the recycling side of the business, the company had 54 employees working in the warehouse when the impacts began. As business slowed and inbound volume dropped to 25% of its former level, the company had to make hard decisions.

“You can’t continue to pay that expense without the associated revenue,” Shine said.

The company ultimately made the decision to furlough 39 employees. In addition to its Brockport location, Sunnking operates a recently opened processing facility in Whitesboro, near Utica, N.Y. Both facilities are operating with reduced staffing levels, Shine said.

“As things start to go back to the way they were, we’ll start to ratchet up again on the recycling side,” Shine said.

In the meantime, the refurbishment and reuse side of the business, where there was a significant backlog of devices to process before the business closures began, has been able to serve the uptick in used-device demand from people working at home.

“That side can make us money and get us through right now,” Shine said.